Educational Articles

Dogs + Parasites

  • Hookworm is a parasitic infection of the gastrointestinal tract of dogs. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. How the infection is spread along with clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention are covered in this handout.

  • Canine hot spots are red, inflamed skin lesions that appear quickly, ooze, and may contain pus. They are the result of a dog excessively scratching, licking, or chewing at an itch. There are several possible underlying causes of the itch and it is crucial to determine what it is to successfully treat the problem. This handout explains these possible causes and the treatment(s) required to resolve them.

  • Imidocarb dipropionate is an injectable medication that is administered by a veterinarian to treat babesiosis in dogs. It is also used off-label to treat other protozoal infections in dogs, cats, and horses. Most common side effects include mild drooling, tearing, vomiting, or nasal drip. Do not use in pets with exposure to cholinesterase-inhibiting drugs, pesticides, or chemicals. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • This handout outlines internal parasites in dogs. Included are parasites of the gastrointestinal tract (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms), as well as parasites of the circulatory system (heartworm). How each of these parasites can affect your dog and what you can do to prevent or treat infection are all explained.

  • Ivermectin + pyrantel is a heartworm disease preventive that treats and controls hookworms and roundworms in dogs. Ivermectin + pyrantel is given by mouth as a flavored chew tablet. At prescribed doses, ivermectin + pyrantel is well-tolerated. Some dog breeds (e.g., collies, sheepdogs, and collie- or sheepdog-cross breeds) are more sensitive to ivermectin than others; your veterinarian will advise you on the safety of using this medication in your dog. If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately.

  • Ivermectin + pyrantel + praziquantel is a combination of anti-parasitic medications used to prevent heartworms and control roundworm, hookworm, and tapeworm in dogs. It is given by mouth as a flavored chew tablet. At prescribed doses, this product is generally well-tolerated but some dogs may experience decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or burping. Certain drugs may interact with those in this combination product; it is extremely important to let your veterinarian know about any medications or supplements that your pet is taking. If your dog has an adverse reaction to this product, call your veterinary office immediately.

  • Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by a protozoan parasite transmitted by sandflies and is most commonly seen in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and South and Central America. It has been reported in some parts of the United States. Clinical signs include hard skin nodules, weakness, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and more. Diagnosis is based on travel history, clinical signs, and diagnostic testing. The goal of treatment is to resolve clinical signs. Prognosis is guarded to grave depending on the severity of the disease.

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of dogs after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the dog’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected dogs can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from dogs to humans.

  • There are many species of lungworm that can cause respiratory problems in dogs. Infection is acquired through either: ingestion of an intermediate host such as snails or slugs, ingestion of animals that have been infected by eating these animals or depending on the species, from an infected dog by contact with saliva, nasal discharge, or contaminated food and water bowls. Lungworms can be found throughout North America and the world with certain species seen in certain areas. Clincal signs can range from asymptomatic to tachypnea, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, respiratory distress or exercise intolerance. The degree of clinical signs is usually proportional to the strength of the dog’s immune system. Diagnosis involves history, physical exam, x-rays and organism identification through either baermann fecal examination or BAL/bronchoscopy. Treatment involves use of specific antiparasitic drugs for various lengths of time depending on type and severity of infection. Prognosis is good but re-infection can occur.

  • The bacterium that causes Lyme disease can be transmitted to dogs through the bite of an infected tick, most commonly the deer tick (black-legged tick), which is found in the midwestern and eastern United States and throughout Canada. The disease typically causes pain and swelling in the affected dog's joints along with decreased appetite and fever. The kidneys are sometimes affected, in which case the disease is often fatal. Diagnostic testing, treatment, and ways to prevent Lyme disease in your dog, including instructions for tick removal, are explained in this handout.